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Getty Villa

Museums, History Pacific Palisades Free
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
 (Photograph: Flickr user diosthenese)
Photograph: Flickr user diostheneseGetty Villa
 (Photograph: Paul Khor)
Photograph: Paul KhorGetty Villa
 (Photograph: Spike Brennan)
Photograph: Spike BrennanGetty Villa

In 1974, oil magnate J Paul Getty opened a museum of his holdings in a faux villa in Malibu, based on the remains of the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum. Derision from critics and ridicule from art experts followed, but no matter—the Getty grew into a beloved local attraction. In 1997, the decorative arts and paintings were moved to the Getty Center, and the villa was closed for conversion into a museum for Getty's collection of Mediterranean antiquities. When it reopened in 2006, part-restored and part-transformed by architects Jorge Silvetti and Rodolfo Machado, the press was rather kinder.

There are roughly 1,200 artifacts on display at any one time, dated between 6,500 BC and 500 AD, and organized under such themes as Gods and Goddesses and Stories of the Trojan War. If you're a novice, start in the Timescape room (numbered as room 113), where a wall-mounted frieze maps the different civilizations along with the art and statuary they created.

You could easily spend a few hours idly wandering through the galleries, but some exhibits really stand out. In room 101C, look for an amazing Greek perfume container that dates back to around 400 BC: it's incredibly elegant and, despite its age, entirely intact. Room 101 holds a collection of disparate items relating to Greek gods, among them a 2,500-year-old monumental statue of Aphrodite in limestone and marble, and some delicate painted oil jars. The outlandish, stag-spouted drinking horn in room 105 is gloriously absurd. And in room 108 stands a 1,900-year-old statue of Hercules, a real alpha-male figure that reputedly inspired Getty to built the museum in the design of a Roman villa.

Upstairs, room 217 holds an eerie limestone statue of a Cypriot fertility goddess from around 3,000 BC, her six toes implying superhuman qualities. In room 213, there's a vivid table support depicting two griffins going head to head as they devour a fallen doe. But the highlight is room 212, where you'll find some intricate Roman gems and coins alongside an unnerving miniature skeleton cast in bronze.

The site also holds conservation laboratories, seminar rooms and a research library, plus temporary exhibitions. Note, though, that you'll need to book a timed ticket (free) in order to visit the museum: walk-ins aren't accepted. At peak times, be sure to book well in advance; try and book your ticket for early in the morning in order to beat the crowds.


Venue name: Getty Villa
Address: 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
Los Angeles
Opening hours: Wed–Mon 10am–5pm
Price: Free admission; Parking $20, after 3pm $15.
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  • Sculpture Until Sunday October 27 2019 Free

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4.3 / 5

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If you want a museum that is more than just an art museum, The Getty Villa is the spot! A beautiful and scenic recreation of an Italian villa where presumably Julius Caesar's father-in -law lived, its an interesting look into how the ancient Romans once lived. Definitely go on one of the many free tours offered of the grounds, and maybe even take the bus up the PCH to avoid paying for parking. For the price of FREE, you really can't go wrong with the Getty Villa! Even the museum cafe was above average for a museum meal!

This is a beautiful, scenic spot to take visitors to! You only have to pay for parking. They turn off the water fountains for the drought, which I think is great, but something to keep in mind when you come expecting those.


Really scenic! I don't really do museums more than once but I've visited the Getty Villa twice. There are guided tours for the interior displays and the courtyard/garden as well as a gift shop, cafe, and I do think they have afternoon tea on certain days. You could definitely spend a good chunk of your day here. 

The amphitheatre and outdoor courtyard/garden with the pool is a reason to come. I know some people who come to this place monthly because it's just so beautiful and transporting. 

$15 for parking, otherwise the museum admission is 100% free. 

The garden has this "lamb ear" plant which I am obsessed with. It's a soft, velvety/furry leaf and literally feels like a lamb's ear.